Saturday, 1 November 2014

Review: REIGN - Kakusei

About the Band: Kakusei is the fourth of a promised five releases from Loud-kei band, REIGN. Born from the session band “Kajikuma” founded by ex-AND members Kaji and Ikuma, REIGN officially started activities November 9, 2013, using the image of a troop of mischievous demons to build upon themes of temptation, greed and death.

The Packaging: Kakusei comes in a two-disc edition: a CD containing two tracks and a DVD with the PV and making-of documentary for the A-side track, Death MirroR. The artwork keeps in theme with the previous releases, featuring the now-familiar little boy standing atop what appears to be a horn on the front and his lamp-wielding demonic counterpart on the back. The discs are decorated once again with a clock, this time set to twelve o’clock.

The tracks: In listening to this release in the context of the previous three, I have decided that REIGN is a swing band. Hard rock swing. Is that a thing?

M1: Death MirroR 
Composed by: Kaji 

We start off with that swingy beat that I've come to expect from REIGN, pounded home by the crunch of Nagi and Tano's guitars.  I have to say, I'm really enjoying how these two are growing together. The two guitar parts meld and bounce off each other, floating around each other like dance partners, moving to Kaji's relentless rhythm, supporting each other without competing or overpowering one another.  If this growth continues, they will make a powerhouse team.

About half-way through, we get a breakdown that sounds like a broken music box.  And, here's where I talk about Ikuma.  He has never been what I would call a 'strong' vocalist, but that doesn't mean he isn't good.  What he lacks in strength he makes up for in performance and versatility and this song is a great example of that.  He croons, he growls, he does this thing I can only describe as a snarl, giving life to the competing personalities in the story they are weaving.

M2:  Zetsuai Platonic
Composed by:  Tano

Speaking of competing personalities, Ikuma seems to split in two for this one, starting off with a death metal growl that nearly knocked me out of my seat followed by a smooth, almost mournful break. My understanding of the Japanese is very limited here, but I get the impression of two warring influences, not unlike the imagery used in Death ParadE. An angel and a devil both whispering in my ears or perhaps an internal emotional battle.

The swingy, carnival music aesthetic continues through this track, almost to the point where it feels like the same song. That's my only complaint with this release. There's not a lot of variation in the two songs and, if you aren't paying attention, you might think they were one track. The one shining moment is a short but delicious little guitar solo in the last third that made me sit up and pay attention.

Overall, I have to say this is sort of a mediocre release. I don't hate it, but I don't love it either. I do really appreciate the world and the story they are setting up, but I was hoping for a little more. They've proven they have the skills, now I want to see some innovation. I want them to surprise me. With one more release to go, I haven't given up hope. Just like in every good story, the climax is in the third act and I'm waiting on pins and needles.